Posts Tagged With: clergywomen

The Pastoral Is Political: We Shine Brighter Together

A dozen candles of various shapes, sizes, amd colors

©2017 Cindi Knox. Used by permission.

I serve a tiny church. It was once a center of activity for a German immigrant community. Later, it was a neighborhood center.

Now it is a small band of committed people.

There is diversity in these people. We have people whose ancestors come from Africa, Europe, East Asia, and also the Caribbean and Central America – which have a diversity all their own.  We have mostly older members, but some young as well. We have gay and straight members, cisgender and transgender members. We have members with economic security, and members who are homeless.

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Sunday Prayer: To Love My Enemy

You, O LORD, are God and you are my God

so teach me to love my enemy, which is my own spirit:
to love my spirit despite her cowardice and to believe
that she is capable of fierce strength for bold living.

Teach me to love my enemy, which is my own heart:
to love my heart despite her complacency and to know
that she can risk heartache for the sake of unbounded love.

Teach me to love my enemy, which is my own flesh:
to love my flesh despite her vanity and to trust
that she can bear God’s presence with perfection.

Teach me to love my enemy, which is my own mind:
to love my mind despite her judgments and to have faith
that she has the fullness of joy to recognize the foolishness of God.

You, O LORD, are God and you are my God. Amen.

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Saturday Prayer: Just Say No

Dear sweet baby Jesus,

I am a child of the 1980’s and with that came Nancy Reagan and the first lady’s campaign of “Just Say NO” this was about the “war on drugs” of course, which caused more hard than good, but for millions of elementary school students we learned to deflect peer pressure and say no to drugs.

She also taught us that abstinence was the only way and that if you have sex even once you will get pregnant, and well… you know how I feel about that.

Truth is, at the end of the day, the slogan has stuck.

And here we are, 30 years later and I find myself hearing these words over and over again.

I’m saying no to politicians and my government who wants to take away rights and alienate people. I’m saying no to times when reading about it and hearing the news of the latest lies makes me hopeless and despair.

I’m saying no to the world who draws me farther and farther from you.

Be with me, be with us, because I need to just say no for sanity’s sake, and say yes, to your call. Amen.

just-say-no


The Reverend Shannon Meacham is the mother of two exhausting children Maggie and Gus, and she currently serves Ashland Presbyterian Church in the safest part of Baltimore, the suburbs. You can find her musings about any and all subjects on her personal blog pulpitshenanigans.com.


RevGalBlogPals encourages you to share our blog posts via email or social media. We do not grant permission to cut-and-paste prayers and articles without a link back. For permission to use material in paper publications, please email revgalblogpals at gmail dot com.

 

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Friday Prayer: Nonviolent Persistence

Holy Christ, Prince of Peace, Pioneer of our faith, img_1941

I find myself immersed in the words of Psalm 137.

Even though I do not wish actual harm on people or their children or their animals, I can feel the urge – lingering at the edges of the least-evolved, least-sanctified, least-formed parts of my reptilian brain.

I see those who are hurt, who are afraid, who grieve, who are rejected, who are caught in the trap of lives, who have been retaliated against… I cannot count them. Their emotions hit me like waves.

I hear the words of people who said “Chance… not her… won’t matter… economics… emails… alternative facts.” And I long to flip their tables, slap their hands, shriek until their ears bleed.

I am not overcome because I continue to put one foot in front of the other. I continue to resist, to persist, to intercede, to pray against, to lift a fist in solidarity and in peace…

And it is that last part that is exhausting.

How can a revolution be a revelation?

Help me to breathe. Help me to listen. Help me to lift up and build up. I don’t think I can yet let go of the urge to pray for pain and destruction, but I can ask for you to channel this for me. I have the burning. Open for me a way that needs this fire. Open a door that leads to this passion. Open a path that I can blaze, with others, behind you- toward truth, freedom, and life for all creation.

Amen.

 


The Reverend Julia Seymour serves Lutheran Church of Hope in Anchorage, AK. She blogs at lutheranjulia.blogspot.com and readsallthethings.com. She contributed to There’s A Woman in the Pulpit. 


RevGalBlogPals encourages you to share our blog posts via email or social media. We do not grant permission to cut-and-paste prayers and articles without a link back. For permission to use material in paper publications, please email revgalblogpals at gmail dot com.

 

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RevGalBookPals: Healing Spiritual Wounds

Lately, I have been paying attention to negative space. Not just space where the energy is 515o5ugeajl-_sx329_bo1204203200_less than positive, but negative space with regard to art-
making, language, and emotional processing. Negative space focuses on what isn’t. What wasn’t. What didn’t. Wha wouldn’t. Negative space can drive us to the other extreme in all kinds of ways, sprinting away from pain into a overzealous commitment to do the opposite of the thing that scarred us deeply.

The negative space created by a wounding church or hurtful church people leaves space that aches in its emptiness. The echoing lies in the negative space speak untruths about God and about our own goodness. That echo reverberates in our lives- affecting our health, our choices, our habits, our relationships, and our faith. In order to live with this hollowness, we set up a system that feeds on the negative space. But negative space has nothing to give.

3a Carol Howard Merritt writes that people who are inclined toward faith will find themselves at the edge of this negative space, again and again. They long to be filled and yet the echoes of the negative spce seem too broad, too deep, and too loud to be overcome. Overcoming this pain with healing, positive truth is a real and tangible possibility. This is the premise, the structure, and the achievement of Merritt’s book Healing Spiritual Wounds: Reconnecting with a Loving God After Experiencing a Hurtful Church.

Within the book, Merritt shares some of her own story as well as that of others she knows. The pain of church lies, leader deceptions,  and the religious idolatry of the appearance of perfection and prosperity are not the telos (end) of God’s desire for the church or for any part of creation. Resurrection and renewal as a spiritual person, in communion with God and others,  is entirely possible, achievable, and worth desiring. This book teaches those lessons gently, like learning how to swim.

You don’t need to conjure God; you simply need to find ways to awake to God’s presence and deepen your connection. (61)

Beyond her gentle prose, Merritt offers clearly structured exercises for contemplation and action. Her metaphors and examples help the reader sit with pain and roll it over like a stone in the mind. As the hurtful thoughts are rolled, their sharpness slowly smoothes. Their ability to inflict pain dulls.

Merritt’s own story- with the religion of her college years, with her father, with her spiritual journey- allow the reader to see that trauma can cause physical pain, grief, illness, and long-term internal and external work. The act of helping someone else in healing can bring healing to one’s own heart, as she often demonstrates.

Toward the end of the book, Merritt writes a litany of the power of biblical women. She reclaims their stories into her own and sees their strengths as a witness to God’s love and work through women. Merritt’s awakening in this section feels very open-ended, as though she wants the reader to know that she is still healing, still discovering, still being loved by the Divine into a new fullness. And because it is happening to and for and through her, the same is true for you.

I highly recommend this book. It would, in particular, make a good Lenten reading for individuals or small groups. Take a positive step to fill negative space in your life with healing and hope. Reading this book can be that step.

I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.


The Reverend Julia Seymour serves Lutheran Church of Hope in Anchorage, AK. She blogs at lutheranjulia.blogspot.com and readsallthethings.com. She contributed to There’s A Woman in the Pulpit. 


RevGalBlogPals encourages you to share our blog posts via email or social media. We do not grant permission to cut-and-paste prayers and articles without a link back. For permission to use material in paper publications, please email revgalblogpals at gmail dot com.

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RCL: You Shall Be Holy

Sometimes Scripture gets a little obvious (even heavy-handed), as it does in this coming Sunday’s Revised Common Lectionary texts:

“You shall not deal falsely.
You shall not lie to one another.”
(Leviticus 19:11)

#guilty

“Do not boast about human leaders.”
(1 Corinthians 3:21)

#beentheredonethat

“You shall not profit
by the blood of your neighbor.
You shall not hate your own kin.”
(Leviticus 19:16-17)

#colonialism #capitalism
#whiteprivilege #racism

“Give to everyone who begs from you,
and do not refuse anyone
who wants to borrow from you.”
(Matthew 5:42)

#godblessthechild

“Do not deceive yourself…
for the wisdom of this world
is foolishness with God.”
(1 Corinthians 3:18-19)

#everydaystruggle

“Love your enemies.”
(Matthew 5:44)

#notevenclose

…and this doozy…

“Be perfect therefore as
your heavenly Father is perfect.”
(Matthew 5:48)

#goingbacktobed

236a8-holyHow’s that going for you, the whole “perfection” commandment? How’s it working out in your ministry to “love your enemies”? What are you experiencing in the world’s inclination to “boast in leaders” and its preference to “profit from the blood of your neighbor?”

Let’s consider those questions momentarily rhetorical.

Try this one instead:

When Scripture is so obvious, do you preach an equally straightforward sermon?

#notmycontext

However you preach such ethical admonitions as these, let’s backtrack to their theological foundation:

The LORD spoke to Moses, saying:
“Speak to all the congregation of the people
of Israel and say to them: You shall be holy
for I the LORD your God am holy.”
(Leviticus 19:1-2)

breath windowYou shall be holy — not by your own merit, not as an individual, not for the purposes of self-righteousness — but holy because you belong to God who is holy. Or, to borrow from John 15, you are within God who is holy, therefore you shall be holy because God is within you.

You shall be holy, and holiness looks like:

love of enemies,
foolishness for holy wisdom,
hearts set on God more than fear,
spirits of humility and honesty,
abundance for the poor
and welcome of the
foreigner.

#anyquestions

You shall be holy, because holiness is the way of God; holiness is Supreme Love and Divine Justice in action.

How will your sermon this week call people to model God’s holy ways? What other strains of God’s story are singing to you from this week’s RCL texts? Please add your reflections in the comments to share the work & wonder of preparing this coming Sunday’s sermon.


Rachel G. Hackenberg is a United Church of Christ minister, soccer mom, blogger, and author. Her book Sacred Pause plays with words to refresh our relationship with The Word.


RevGalBlogPals encourages you to share our blog posts via email or social media. We do not grant permission to cut-and-paste prayers and articles without a link back. For permission to use material in paper publications, please email revgalblogpals at gmail dot com.

Categories: Revised Common Lectionary | Tags: , , , | 9 Comments

Tuesday Prayer

broken-heart

Dear Friend,

On this day when some celebrate love with chocolate and flowers and diamonds, I am thinking of hard love

love that really listens

love that cries together at a death

love that does the rough work of agreeing to disagree

love that looks forward to an uncertain future

love that works, apart and together

love that doesn’t have a tidy boundary of marriage or label

love that brings the bandages

You modeled that love for us.

We thank you.

Amen.

Mary Beth Butler is an Episcopal layperson in North Texas. She is a retired university administrator, paving contractor, hospice volunteer and occasional blogger. She is leading her parish’s refugee ministry. 


RevGalBlogPals encourages you to share our blog posts via email or social media. We do not grant permission to cut-and-paste prayers and articles without a link back. For permission to use material in paper publications, please email revgalblogpals at gmail dot com.

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Narrative Lectionary: Wiping Jesus’ Feet

Resisterhood.

Resisterhood

In a week where persisting is all the rage, it’s hard not to approach this text thinking of the United States Senator Elizabeth Warren being warned by Mitch McConnell not to read a letter about a controversial appointee, Jeff Sessions. It has become a rallying cry, “She was warned. She was given an explanation. Nevertheless, she persisted.”

You could say the same about this “certain immoral woman” with an alabaster jar of expensive perfume. She persisted as she knelt behind him at his feet, weeping. She persisted as her tears fell on his feet. She persisted as she wiped those tears off with her hair. She persisted as she kissed his feet and put perfume on them.

She persisted.

As an answer to the Pharisee’s complaint about the “immoral woman,” Jesus told a parable: a man loaned money to two people, to one a smallish amount, to the others ten times that amount. Neither could repay. Which one loved the man more?

And while it’s a great story of persistence, I wonder if that’s too easy. Yes, there’s a political undertone to this Sunday’s text (you can read it here and read the Working Preacher commentary here).

But Jesus’ politicizing is not like ours.

After telling the parable, Jesus goes on. He points out that the host has overlooked an important cleansing ritual, a sign of honor and hospitality. Then Jesus talks about the woman (yes, he talks about her with her standing there) and he calls her a “sinner.” But Jesus doesn’t stop there. He goes on to say that her sins were “many.”

Miroslav Volf, in his book Exclusion and Embrace, says core of Jesus’ message was two-fold: divine love and the need for repentance. In other words, Jesus taught us about God’s unconditional love and that we are sinners.

We don’t ever talk about the poor needing repentance, do we? We don’t talk about the marginalized being sinners, do we? If Jesus shared today’s liberal ideals, he would be saying that the marginalized need justice, that they need healing. Not that they (or we) need repentance, and not a “radical alteration of the course and direction of one’s life, its basic motivations, attitudes, and objectives” but, as Volf says, “repentance implies not merely a recognition that one has made a bad mistake, but that one has sinned.”

Mind you, though. The sins committed by the marginalized were not the sins that the religious people were pointing out to them, like breaking the purity laws. Nor were their sins in a vacuum. The marginalized “commit sin” and “sin is committed against them.”

Volf says this: “The truly revolutionary character of Jesus’ proclamation lies precisely in the connection between the hope he gives to the oppressed and the radical change he requires of them. Though some sins have been imputed to them, other sins of theirs were real; though they suffered at the sinful hand of others, they also committed sins of their own.”

Whew. I’ve been so busy seeing her marginalization, I haven’t noticed her sin. Let me rephrase that… I’ve been so busy seeing my own marginalization, I haven’t noticed my own sin. How shall I repent from that?

What about you? How will you be preaching this text?

Here are some other ideas:

  • The woman gave what she had. How do we give “what we have?” to Jesus?
  • The woman was shunned by the Pharisee. How do our churches shun sinful women now?
  • Jesus saw her sinfulness, but he also saw her goodness. How is that working in and through our political system now? Can we see the goodness of those we’re othering?
  • If we write about persistence, what shall we persist in?

And preaching women, one more thing, if I may. I have notice that I am very tired, and I’m aware that our political situation is going to last a long time… Have you scheduled some way to take care of you this week?


Rev. Lia Scholl is not-that-kind-of-Baptist preacher and pastor in Winston-Salem, North Carolina (U.S.) and is the author of I Heart Sex Workers (Chalice Press, 2013).


RevGalBlogPals encourages you to share our blog posts via email or social media. We do not grant permission to cut-and-paste prayers and articles without a link back. For permission to use material in paper publications, please email revgalblogpals at gmail dot com.

 

 

Categories: Narrative Lectionary | Tags: , , , | 4 Comments

Sunday Prayer: Life and Death

At your command, O God,
heaven and earth bear witness:

We sing of love
but romance death.

We reap in faith
but sow distrust

We pray for peace
but cherish gossip.

By your grace we would follow
heaven and earth’s witness:

Saying “no” to evil, to spite, to cowardice.
Pledging “yes” and “yes” to life before the throne of God.

Yes and yes to life in common purpose
with heaven and earth.

Yes by God. Yes to God.
Yes, Holy God. Let your wisdom be vindicated

as we dance in life, weep in life,
hold fast in life, and die in life. Forever in your life.

Let heaven and earth bear witness.
Amen.


Rachel G. Hackenberg is a United Church of Christ minister, soccer mom, blogger, and author. Her book Sacred Pause plays with words to refresh our relationship with The Word.


RevGalBlogPals encourages you to share our blog posts via email or social media. We do not grant permission to cut-and-paste prayers and articles without a link back. For permission to use material in paper publications, please email revgalblogpals at gmail dot com.

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Saturday Prayer: God of Tomorrow

We’re asked to stay here, focus here, remain here in this moment, blessed Christ. But it’s too much. 
I need to dream of a better world, I need to think of how this will come to pass. I need to remove myself from this moment. 

Because here sucks. 

The world is falling apart and there is a ban against people and everywhere I turn there is something else to upset me. And I can’t. 

So I’ll stay here for a little while and then I’ll daydream of what the next thing can be. I’ll start to feel helpless and then I’ll look around for a new project. I’ll pray but about a distant place where your peace reigns. A future of light. 

I’ll pray for someday. I have to pray for a better tomorrow because today is a disaster. 

God, help us! Amen. 

The Reverend Shannon Meacham is the mother of two exhausting children Maggie and Gus, and she currently serves Ashland Presbyterian Church in the safest part of Baltimore, the suburbs. You can find her musings about any and all subjects on her personal blog pulpitshenanigans.com.

RevGalBlogPals encourages you to share our blog posts via email or social media. We do not grant permission to cut-and-paste prayers and articles without a link back. For permission to use material in paper publications, please email revgalblogpals at gmail dot com.

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